Friday, July 10, 2015

Wise as Serpents and Gentle as Doves

     When I was a teenager, I did not much appreciate all the rules and restrictions my parents placed on my activities.  I felt like they were trying to keep me from having fun, but as I look back years later, I understand just how much they loved me.  Their boundary setting and discipline made me more fully aware of the consequences I would experience if I disobeyed.  Certainly this training is much needed in our current culture where many young people are never held accountable for their actions.  Needless to say, I am grateful for their faithful instruction which kept me out of harm's way.
     In the same way, our Heavenly Father provides for us, with His moral Laws, teaching and examples in the Bible, the guidelines to remain on the narrow path which leads to eternal life.  Every time I open the Word, I am reminded that I am reading God's thoughts after Him.  Likewise knowing that Jesus came to walk among us as both fully man and fully God, makes His instruction even more critical for our well-being as believers in this hostile world in which we walk.
     Lately, it has become even more clear with current events that this world is growing in its rebellion against God.  Beheadings, unrest throughout the world, and court rulings are bewildering signs of the times in which we live and make us aware that we are aliens here in this culture.  We are just passing through; however, Jesus does not want us to be unprepared.  
     In the Gospel according to Matthew (10:26), we read:  "Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."  Jesus knew what His disciples would face as they shared the "Good News" of salvation with others.  It would not be easy, and since we know that man's sin nature has not changed since The Garden of Eden, we also know that we will face those who will decry our faith.  
     Within this simple instruction, the Lord tells us to be as wise as a serpent but as gentle as a dove.  We know, from nature, that snakes are able to evade capture by moving quickly.  On the other hand, doves are gentle, kind and non-confrontational.  What a dichotomy is presented in this word picture, but the Lord knows we need to be able to use both our ability to maneuver wisely as well as our gentle nature in order to bring others into the Kingdom and avoid the pitfalls of this world.  This is true even more so now that the tide has changed in our nation concerning many moral issues addressed in the Bible.  The bottom line for the Christian is that we must obey God rather than man.  We will not be popular and we may face persecution.  Now is the time for us to do some self
examination.  Are we ready to stand with the Lord upholding His moral law?  Are we willing to lose all that we have if it comes to that in order to serve the Lord?  If we are a church leader, what will we do in order to protect the sheep in our care?
     Jesus did not send out His disciples without presenting them with the cost they would have to pay for their faithfulness.  Neither does He send us out without instruction.  We must be prayed up, solid in the Word and ready in the love of Christ to defend the faith we profess.  Many are watching for our response to see if we will stand fast.  Let us pray for our pastors, leaders and the church body that the Lord will deliver us up from evil and temptation.  In all our ways, may we shine for Christ in this dark world that many will come to know Him!  Selah!

The picture of the snake is courtesy of Kathy Hardesty.  The dove picture is from Wiki Commons and courtesy of Steveleeignacio .

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